10 tips for successful system integration in a recession
An economic recession may be the perfect time for smart engineers to upgrade their plants and plan for recovery, according to Dan Walser, senior systems engineer at Applied Motion Systems. If you’re living with problems? A well planned drive and control system upgrade can eliminate a world of hurt. While the sales staff works on finding new business, operations and design staff can take the make the most of relatively idle time to retrofit existing machines. Walser says a system integrator can help in 10 ways:
1. Run the retrofitting numbers. Determine the cost-benefit of upgrading your existing equipment vs. buying new. Throughput benefits of 30%-50% and savings in the hundreds of thousands of dollars are possible after updating control hardware and implementing a better user interface.
2. Involve the integrator early. Good partnerships build success. By involving the integrator early in the evaluation process, you have a better chance of getting the best solution for your production challenges.
3. Get the whole package to save time, money, and headaches. Make sure your integrator is providing the PLC/motion programming, HMI software design, drives, control hardware, panel building, field acceptance and testing, start-up, training, and documentation.
4. Understand upgrade project management. Field retrofits of existing equipment are inherently different from installations of new equipment.
5. Fix what’s broken. The performance of your equipment after the upgrade will be directly affected by its mechanical condition at that time. Now is the time to replace worn parts and perform other maintenance tasks that perhaps have been overlooked or delayed
6. Support the system remotely . Industrial Ethernet now makes remote support a snap so that you can receive timely assistance if your production is interrupted or troubleshooting is required, reducing total cost of ownership.
7. Be flexible when considering a controller . Not all controllers are created equal. While most are quite capable for general everyday tasks, a qualified system integrator may advise you to consider a particular controller, depending on the complexity of the application, especially for motion control.
8. Evaluate service and experience, not just price. Attentive and immediate customer service will save you money. Ask for references and to see other projects like yours that were successful. You never want to select the one who left the most out of a bid.
9. Read the documentation and get the training, considering manuals, drawings, and updates. This is easily overlooked, and critically important.
10. Consult your current integrator. If you have developed a relationship with a good integrator, be sure to get a bid from personnel there, particularly if they have demonstrated a commitment to system perfection even when it cost them money.
May 2009 Control Engineering has
– Edited by Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief
Control Engineering News Desk, www.controleng.com
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